Cardi B and her attorneys are headed to trial Monday morning in an Atlanta federal courthouse over her accusations that a prominent YouTube channel waged a “malicious campaign” to hurt her reputation by spreading rumors of sexually transmitted diseases and other falsehoods.
The superstar, whose real name is Belcalis Almánzar, claims that a woman named Latasha Kebe made dozens of YouTube videos and social media posts that spread false claims about her, like one that said Cardi B had contracted herpes and another that told of a shocking incident with a beer bottle.
Kebe has denied the accusations, and even countersued on claims that Cardi B encouraged her fans to harass her on social media. A judge tossed out Kebe’s counterclaims last year, saying there was “no evidence” that the rapper had caused the alleged harassment.
The trial is set to kick off Monday morning with jury selection; after that, the trial is expected to run for at least two weeks. It’s unclear if the star herself will take the witness stand. Cardi B will be represented by Lisa F. Moore and William A. Pequignot of the law firm Moore Pequignot LLC. Kebe will be represented by Sadeer Sabbak and Olga Izmaylova of Sabbak & Izmaylova PC.
Attorneys for Cardi B have a difficult road ahead, mainly because the First Amendment makes it difficult for famous people to sue for defamation. To win her case, the superstar must prove not just that Kebe’s statements hurt her reputation, but that the blogger acted with so-called actual malice — that she either intentionally lied or acted with a reckless indifference to the truth.
Kebe, who goes by the name Tasha K, is a celebrity news blogger who publishes videos to nearly 1 million subscribers on her YouTube channel “unWinewithTashaK.” She calls her site “a drama-based blog.”
In her 2019 lawsuit, Cardi B cited more than 38 videos uploaded by Kebe that referenced her, plus numerous other social media posts. According to court filings, one video from December 2018 contains a statement that Cardi B “f***** herself with beer bottles on f****** stripper stages.” In another post from 2019, Kebe claimed the star had contracted herpes.
Over two years of litigation, the case has turned increasingly bitter.
In November, after Cardi B asked to delay trial because of a family emergency, Kebe accused her of fabricating the story so that she could host the American Music Awards. Later, Kebe sought and won a court order requiring a Los Angeles hospital to turn over any records of STD tests performed on Cardi B. A judge later said those records were “not helpful” to Kebe’s defense – meaning they likely showed a negative test result.